London artist Durlabh Singh offers new insights into universal themes in his exhibition at the Bhavan Centre, By James Brewer
When he is not painting, he is writing – reviews, fiction, poetry. When he is not writing, he is painting. The prolific Durlabh Singh, resident in north London, is adding to his already impressive tally of exhibitions with a new show of oil paintings at the MP Birla Millennium Art Gallery, in the Bhavan Centre in West Kensington.
The collection there goes under the title Paintings of Distinct, and his style is indeed distinct whatever subject he turns his brushes to.
He says that his art is a “revolt against pseudo-intellectualism” that has been embodied in certain forms of abstract art. He applies memorable layers of colour even to hackneyed themes, such as still life with fruit. His sympathy for the common man, and woman, is evident. In his bold uncompromising treatment of his subjects, he is his own person. Van Gogh might have embraced him as a brother; Edvard Munch, the Norwegian famous for The Scream, as a distant cousin.
This remarkable artist leads a non-stop, creative existence.
Born in Kenya, Durlabh Singh pursued his higher education in India, London and the US. Since 1980 he has had 15 solo exhibitions, and taken part in numerous group displays in the UK, Italy and Paris.
He has written and illustrated several books, and contributed to others. One, a collection of short stories entitled Kama Sutra of Love, begins with the tale of a young man in the Punjab given the menial task of grazing the family’s cattle, and his discovery of “worlds within worlds” as he plays his flute…
His writings have appeared in more than 300 publications and he runs creative writing courses and poetry reading workshops.
Among public collections holding his art are the UK Ministry of Defence, the World Trade Center Disaster Fund of New York, Oxfam, Horniman Museum, Leicestershire Museum, HP State Museum in Shimla, the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, and the Wild Life Trust of India.
The Bhavan Centre is making a vibrant contribution to London cultural life, with an intensive programme of arts, dance performances and workshops, instrumental and vocal recitals, drama and yoga. It says that its “fundamental purpose is to preserve for posterity the unsurpassed and indisputable beauty of Indian culture, art and heritage.”
Paintings of Distinct, by Durlabh Singh, is at MP Birla Millennium Art Gallery, The Bhavan Centre, 4a Castletown Road, West Kensington, London W14, until November 22 2014, at weekends 11am – 7pm, and weekdays 4pm – 7